Though I often make quick pit stops at chain coffee stores out of convenience, there’s nothing quite like going to your local cafe, hearing your barista greet you by name while grinding the freshest of beans and asking how you’ve been. The care and the artistry that goes into that one cup of coffee is always worth the extra dollar.
As China welcomes Starbucks into its economy, independent coffee shops are retreating, unable to afford the rising cost of rent. But locals know that all they have to do is look up — The Wall Street Journal reports that China’s cafes have taken over the second story spaces of buildings, assuming a low-profile that attracts flocks of in-the-know locals. Each with their own theme and unique personality, lau seung (upper-floor) cafes are struggling to provide an alternative to the fast-growing coffee chains taking over the country.
“This is not really for profit,” one lau seung cafe owner explained. “We like more to make friends here.”
All photos by Christopher Shay
What is it about your local coffee shop that makes it special?